Larry Moss is an American actor, director and an acting coach for some notable stars including Leonardo De Caprio, Hillary Swank, Tobey Maguire, and Helen Hunt to name a few.
He has also founded The Larry Moss Studio and wrote the book ‘The intent to live’ which is all about achieving your true potential as an actor.
When he wrote this book he didn’t write the intent to act, he purposely named it the intent to live – because that’s what acting is – it’s about life.
Larry studied with some of the great acting teachers of our time including Stella Adler and Sanford Meisner who taught him various lessons about the craft of acting which I will share with you shortly.
Larry decided to get involved in acting thanks to watching ‘East of Eden’ when he was just a young teenager. Seeing James Dean on the big screen broke his heart, opened his heart and got him off his arse and into acting.
For Larry, acting at first was a way to get the love that he craved, attention he wanted, the desire he needed and payback he yearned which now he says he was an idiot for.
Larry believes that to become a good actor one must work hard, get off their arse, go to class, work their body, workout their voice, read the great plays, read the great novel, go to museums and give something back.
Because, It’s not about you.
It’s about stopping being egocentric always thinking ‘me me me!’ and as corny as it sounds pausing and asking somebody else about themselves instead.
Most people, not just actors, walk around asking themselves – ‘what can I get’ and don’t think about what they can give. When you ask ‘What can I get?’ you don’t have anything but when you ask ‘what can I give?’ You may find something to give – that could include your humour, your joy, your pain, your silliness, even your imagination.
Larry says that going for roles is never personal, its show business and its the least personal experience in the world. Nobody gives a damn about you, and really what the director is saying is ‘can you make me look good?’ And ‘Can you more importantly tell the story that I want to tell?’ Remember, it’s never personal so try not to take it to heart.
Acting is all about technique. It’s not about ‘do you like me’ or ‘am I going to be a star’ – you can be as good as you want to be based on the passion you have to bring stories to life through character.
Daniel Day Lewis, when he went up for the role of Lincoln, showed up in front of Spielberg with enough information that he’d researched himself about Lincoln’s character that when the writer Kushner saw this he realised how passionate Day Lewis was about the subject matter.
When Day Lewis got the role he said he’d need a year to prepare for it – that’s how much home work he would need to do.
Meryl Streep says ‘I never give a character less respect than I give my own life.’ And the lady has more than five decades of acting proof to back that up.
Larry believes that you need to read the great writers, to understand their history, where they came from, how they wrote and why they wrote those great plays. It’s imbuing yourself in their world and seeing it from their point of view.
Writers teach us about humanity and as actors you have to do your best to teach the audience how to be human.
An actor does a service every time they’re honest in a film or a theatre piece – they give something of themselves.
The way for an actor to work is to get emotional everyday with text. To have four monologues you can do everyday – two classics and two contemporaries; to do your vocal work; to do animal work; to go see the great films; to find a part in a play, even if it’s fringe or amateur dramatics and work on it everyday.
Acting is about doing something that scares you as a character, something that you don’t think you could do but would love to do. Making different choices for the character, different intentions, different physicality.
To be an actor you need to act – to go to regional theatres or even create a theatre company of your own, with a group of actors just like John Malkovich and Gary Sinise did with Steppenwolf – do something – give something.
Even non natives that say they can’t get roles because of their accents need to shut up and go and write a play, about their culture, their country, their experiences and act it out.
The social economic experience of an actor makes them who they are, their education, their economic life and how they grew up. It’s sharing that with the world.
Read the great authors of our time: Charles Dickens, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky and imagine those characters in their stories come to life. Reading makes you work on the acting technique because you visualise it all, in other words without reading you’re not working on your imagination, you’re just having it fed to you via the TV via the Internet so you become weak in imagery.
You must have a love affair with the great book, embrace them and love them for what they are, their ability to give you creative insights into a world you don’t know, yet.
So, Read! Larry says – turn the god damn TV off and don’t watch it for a week – I dare you – see if you cannot watch it for a week and read for 4hr every day instead.
There’s tragedy in laziness, the tragedy of entitlement, the tragedy of its all about me. It’s not about you. It’s deeply about you but it’s not about you. There’s the rub.
Some of you may have anxiety attacks, some may have moments of great doubt, some will have moments of self hatred, some will have moments of guilt, shame, of outrage – that’s the human condition – do the best you can today and take nothing for granted.
You have to stay the course and keep asking what’s that about? you’ll get through it – just like getting through the opening night, or your first big scene, or your first short – you breathe, you give yourself some love, you concentrate, you do the best you can and you go on.
Life has no meaning whatsoever only the meaning that you bring to it – so ask yourself what can you do today to bring meaning to your life?
That’s the Larry Moss way.